Many HR policies are instituted for the purpose of creating a work environment that is fair to all employees, and uniform policies are a prime example. Uniforms help avoid many of the problems that arise when enforcing dress codes, which can be difficult to define. Sometimes, a difficult to define dress code is more than a fairness issue: it’s a safety issue. For example, if your organization requires that all employees wear flame-resistant (FR) garments but does not provide them, there’s no way to ensure that every garment employees wear is sufficiently protective without checking each tag.
Providing quality garments and instituting a standardized uniform policy is a good way to show your employees your company cares. Here are some ways to be as fair and consistent as possible with your uniform rules:
Make sure all employees are aware of your uniform policy and how it works
The responsibility falls on the employer to make employees aware of any new policy, so it’s necessary to create a clear uniform policy. Your uniform policy should establish what garments employees receive and the responsibility of the employees and the company.
- Wearing uniforms properly.
- Accounting for all parts of the uniform.
- Turning uniforms in for cleaning, repairs, and/or replacements.
- Proper care and maintenance.
- Turning uniforms in for cleaning.
- Educating employees about the uniform policy.
- Issuing uniforms.
- Providing cleaning service for uniforms.
- Enforcing the uniform policy.
Uniform policies should be distributed to employees and easy for them to access. The written policy may be a part of your employee handbook. Employees should be informed of changes to the policy in advance.
Give employees the opportunity to get reasonable accommodations
While uniform policies are generally cut and dry, they also need room for unique (and reasonable) accommodations. Religious garments and certain disabilities may conflict with your employee uniform standards. When instituting a policy, accommodations related to religion and disabilities are necessary to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. There may be safety or health concerns that make certain accommodations difficult in certain environments, but your policy should have space for reasonable accommodations where possible.
Provide all employees with uniforms that enable them to do their particular jobs
If employees are provided with a standard uniform that is only good for most of the company, it may hinder certain workers from completing their jobs. Those employees may be more likely to violate the uniform rules, and others may think they can get away with violating the policy as a result. Every job within an organization may not require the same uniform, and your policy should reflect those rules for the uniform standards of each position.
Enforce your uniform policy as uniformly as possible
Your company’s uniform policy should be enforced fairly across your entire workforce. Sometimes there are certain managers and departments within a company that are less strict about enforcing uniform policies. This creates conflicts because those that are following the policy can grow resentful that other employees are “getting away” with violating it. As mentioned above, seeing some individuals violate the uniform policy may inspire other employees to violate it themselves. It’s the job of HR to ensure that your employee uniform regulations are standard and that management is enforcing them in the same way in all departments.
Bringing stability to the workplace through uniforms
Instituting a uniform policy can bring stability to a company’s workforce. While complex issues can arise when deciding on the right uniforms, your uniform company should be able to consult with you on these matters and help you provide the proper uniforms for all your employees.
Helpful tip: If uniforms are comfortable and make it easy for employees to accomplish their jobs, it’s generally not as hard to enforce uniform rules and avoid conflicts over perceived unfairness.